Pinprick foreign policy harmful to American security, foreign relations

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With the Reagan G.O.P. debate coming to a close on Sept. 16, the spotlight shifted away from Donald Trump and immigration laws and instead focused on foreign and military policies and national security.

There were talks about sending more arms to the Middle East by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, as well as a heated exchange about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program and how to better utilize the military.

Throughout the debate, moderated by CNN, there was a recurring theme that all candidates shared: they all accused President Obama of weakening the country’s military and security.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio identified Obama’s tactics of utilizing force as equivalent to a “pinprick.” Rubio advocated for using more force and only employing armed forces in situations where victories are possible.

“We are not going to authorize the use of force if you are not putting the [U.S. military] in a position to win,” Rubio said.

He makes a valid point. These are soldiers’ lives that are at the disposal of the next commander-in-chief. When minimal use of force is deployed, it undermines the likelihood of soldiers’ survival.

The military operates best when it can maximize its full potential. The “pinprick,” as Rubio says, causes more harm than good, as the soldiers will be in a threatening environment without receiving the full support of U.S. firepower.

One of the biggest threats currently facing the U.S. is the extremist self-proclaimed Islamic State, ISIS. Soldiers have been sent to contain them, yet the tactic employed has had many candidates scratching their heads, including Rubio, who opposed the war in Syria due to the use of minimal force.

There are only 3,500 soldiers in Syria now. They need to be placed in a position that ensures a quicker victory and a greater number of soldiers who can return home safely. While the argument can be made that the U.S. should not send forces at all, one must remember who the enemies really are. ISIS seems to only understand one method of negotiation: violence. There is no other way to communicate with them.

What the media does not emphasize and what many do not know is that despite the unprovoked backlash against Muslims all over the world, Muslims are suffering the most out of this war. In the war on terror with ISIS and in the past with Al-Qaeda, more Muslims have been killed than individuals of any other race or religion. In 2014, the United Nations released a 26-page report on ISIS killings, which revealed that out of the 24,015 murdered, the vast majority were Muslim. While Rubio’s goal of “putting the forces in a position to win” suggests victory is the only goal in mind, sending troops over to contain the ISIS problem also helps Syrian civilians.

Innocent people in Syria are victims of ISIS, and the U.S. has the capability to help. More force must be applied in containment, if not for the sake of helping others, then for the sake of helping themselves. If the U.S. does not contain the problem, ISIS will reach these borders. The only way to stop the threat is to fight fire with fire.

So, why continue using a “pinprick” attack? For the better welfare of innocent civilians, the ensured safety of the soldiers and the greater possibility of a swift and succinct victory, Rubio’s method should be considered. Use the full might of the strongest military in the world and bring an end to the war. 

Marcus Lim is a junior majoring in journalism. He previously served as a sergeant in the Singapore Armed Forces.